Red Hot Chili Peppers - “Unlimited Love” Album Review
Almost six years after their previous album, Red Hot Chili Peppers have returned to release their 12th studio album: “Unlimited Love.”
Adding to the wait is the return of guitarist John Frusciante, who played a vital role in the band’s two most critically acclaimed albums: “Californication” and “Stadium Arcadium.”
Producer Rick Rubin also returns for the first time since the latter album. Neither have been involved with a Red Hot Chili Pepper project in 16 years.
Since the two left, the band’s success has waned both critically and commercially. This trend has been bucked with “Unlimited Love” already, with the album reaching number one on the Billboard and iTunes charts.
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ recent albums have carried dark themes about the struggles of the members. “Unlimited Love” shows a much brighter point in life for the band. The tracklist features a majority of songs where Anthony Kiedis is simply writing what he enjoys, rather than as a means of venting.
The opening track and lead single “Black Summer” was the perfect choice of lead single for the album. The track features slowed verses with a hard-hitting chorus that offers one of Kiedis’ strongest vocal performances to date. The lyrics serve as a transition from their prior work to the message of “Unlimited Love,” as it recognizes the struggles of the pandemic leading into the reunification of the band with Frusciante.
The two other singles remain perplexing choices. “Not The One” and “Poster Child” were two selections out of the weakest portion of “Unlimited Love.” While neither track is expressly bad, “Not The One” is a slow ballad that doesn’t fit the tone of the band, while “Poster Child” features convoluted rambling by Kiedis that is difficult to perceive.
There is not a bad song on this album. While there are a group of tracks, such as “Tangelo,” that don’t compare to the class of the album, every track is worth running back.
The album has a consistent sound, with funky undertones being complimented by moments of classic rock intensity. Frusciante shines through many closing solos such as on “The Great Apes” which are the highlight of a few songs throughout “Unlimited Love.”
Frusciante even takes over singing on the chorus of the high point of the album, “The Heavy Wing.” The rock anthem will go down as a classic among the band’s discography.
The rest of the shining tracks are fun songs in classic funk style.
“One Way Traffic” features spoken word verses talking about long days on the road, with a singalong chorus. “Here Ever After” is a love song that carries a similar sound.
“These Are The Ways” is an American anthem about moving to the country. It is being pushed as the main single from the album release.
“Unlimited Love” still features some of the quirks that lead many to dislike the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The sound is still consistent with their prior works, mixed with a classic rock feel. Anthony Kiedis still throws in lyrics that sound like nonsense, as well as some lines that sound uncomfortable.
Rick Rubin produced the album in a way that allowed each band member to shine through the tracks. He also implemented computer synthesized music on tracks such as “Bastards of Light” in a minor way to enhance the band’s sound, rather than detract from it as many rock band’s tend to do in modern times.
For anyone who did not like Red Hot Chili Peppers prior to “Unlimited Love,” this album will not do much to change their minds.
However, for fans of the band or rock music as a whole, “Unlimited Love” is one of the best rock albums to come out in recent times.
“Unlimited Love” is an old-school rock classic that will go down as one of the highlights of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ illustrious discography.
Reviewer’s Favorites: “Black Summer” “The Heavy Wing” “One Way Traffic”
Reviewer’s Least Favorites: “Tangelo” “It’s Only Natural”
Evan Smith is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
First-Year / Broadcast Journalism